Category Archives: Billy Kolber

By @ 09/28/16 in Billy Kolber, Hotels, Marriott, Starwood

Marriott/Starwood loyalty merger

When the Marriott/Starwood merger closed last Friday, the frequent traveler world was surprised with a same-day linkage of the two loyalty programs, immediate reciprocal elite memberships, and the ability to shift points between the two programs freely, at a 1 Starpoint = 3 Marriott Rewards point ratio.

Starwood Gold Elite members (who only needed 10 stays or 25 nights to qualify) got the biggest bonus, since Marriott Rewards Gold (which requires 50 nights) offers benefits more closely aligned with SPG platinum, notably free breakfast and lounge access at most Marriott hotels. Elite qualification nights are not shared or transferable currently, so you’ll need to be careful not to split your nights in a way that jeopardizes your status.

The combination of the Marriott/Starwood programs created some unexpected bonuses for elite members. And some newly minted ways to instantly become Marriott Rewards Gold — like spending $30,000 on the SPG Amex card in a year.  Even better, are these seven sneaky clever ways to get or leverage your new status for significant travel benefits.

1. If you have an American Express Platinum Card, you’re now gold with Marriott.

Platinum Amex Cardholders get awesome benefits, including SPG Gold Elite membership. Which gives you Marriott Rewards Gold, which is even more valuable: it includes free breakfast and lounge access at most Marriott hotels — a benefit you only get at the Platinum level with SPG.

2. If you’re a Delta Skymiles Diamond or Platinum Member, you’re now gold with Marriott.

Like American Express Platinum card holders, you’re also entitled to automatic SPG Gold Elite through the Crossover Rewards program. Once you register, your SPG Gold status gets you Marriott Rewards Gold.

3. If you’re a Platinum SPG member, you’re now silver with United MileagePlus

RewardsPlus, a Marriott/United Airlines partnership offers Marriott Platinum Elites a United MileagePlus silver elite. Once your SPG and MR accounts are linked, you can apply for the benefit with United based on your Marriott Platinum status.

4. If you’re a Marriott Rewards Platinum Member, you’re now silver on Delta

SPG Crossover Rewards grants Delta Skymiles Silver membership, Once your Marriott Rewards and SPG accounts are linked, you can link your SPG and Delta accounts.

5. If you’re United Mileage Plus Gold Elite member, you’re gold with Starwood.

RewardsPlus grants Marriott Rewards Gold to United MileagePlus Gold members. And that of course, gets you SPG Gold once your Marriott and Starwood accounts are linked.

6. Transfer 90,000 Starpoints into 132,000 United Mileage Plus points.

Almost every SPG airline partner offers a 1:1 point transfer ratio. But the united ratio was 1:2, requiring twice as many starpoints. But transfer 90,000 Starpoints into 270,000 Marriott Rewards points, and redeem for a RewardsPlus vacation package. Those 90,000 Starpoints become 132,000 MileagePlus miles, and a free 7-night Marriott Category 1-5 hotel stay. (Same offer with 7 nights at a Category 9 hotel is 130,000 Starpoints; 180,000 Starpoints at Tier 5 Ritz-Carlton).

A similar Travel Package offer is available for 60,000-120,000 miles on the following carriers: Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Alaska Airlines, AirBerlin, Air Canada, Air China, Air France/KLM, Alitalia, American Airlines, ANA, Asia Miles, Asiana Airlines, Avianca-TACA, British Airways, China Eastern, China Southern, Copa Airlines, Delta Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Frontier Airlines, GOL/Varig,  Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, Jet Blue, Korean Air, LAN, Lufthansa, Multiplus, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Saudia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways Voyager, Southwest Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, Turkish Airlines,Virgin America. Virgin Atlantic

7. Double Your Credit Card Enrollment Bonuses

You likely already have one or the other. But you should have both, earn the enrollment bonuses, and freely transfer points between the programs. Currently, you can earn 25,000 Starpoints for getting the Amex Card, and 87,500 Marriott Rewards points for their visa card. Once you’ve earned the Marriott bonus, switch your everyday, non-Marriott spending to the SPG American Express card, since the 1 Starpoint per $1 is worth three times as much as the 1 MR point per $1 from the Marriott Rewards card.

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By @ 09/09/15 in Billy Kolber, Ed Salvato, Gay travel, London, ManAboutWorld, Travel
Big Ben in London, ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Big Ben

Our editor Ed Salvato is on a European tour, currently in London for the week. He updated us with a few images from his trip, including these. Check back here, on our Instagram feed or on Facebook over the next two weeks to see photos from  his travels and those of our colleague Billy Kolber who’s also in Europe on this Uniworld river cruise sailing from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

G-A-Y gay club in London, ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

G-A-Y

The London Eye in London, ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

The London Eye

For more photos, click ‘read more’ below

DOWNLOAD MANABOUTWORLD: Please check our unique digital gay travel magazine for savvy gay travelers by downloading the ManAboutWorldApp on the iTunes App Store or Google Play. We support iPads, iPhones and Android devices. There are a few FREE publications in all of the apps, and you can click here to register for a FREE three-month subscription.

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By @ 08/03/15 in Billy Kolber, Gay travel, ManAboutWorld, Travel

Billy Kolber, publisher of ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine speaks with Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBCBilly Kolber, co-founder of ManAboutWorld, was Melissa Harris-Perry’s guest on her eponymous show on MSNBC talking about the intersection of “traveling while black” and “traveling while gay” in honor of what would have been James Baldwin‘s 91st birthday. Below is a short snippet from the show. Click here to see the entire eight-minute episode.

ManAboutWorld: Download our unique digital gay travel magazine app for decision-empowering trip-planning information for savvy gay travelers by downloading the ManAboutWorldApp on the iTunes App Store or Google Play. We support iPads, Android tablets, iPhones and Android phones. There are a few free publications in all of the apps, and you can click here to register for a FREE three-month subscription. Go on, tap away.

 

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By @ 06/25/15 in Billy Kolber, Gay pride, Gay travel, LA/West Hollywood, London, ManAboutWorld, New York, Travel

16061907243_28142df2fd_zGay Pride is simply bursting around the world as you can see in these photos:

  • Rainbow-wrapped double-decker bus in London (above)
  •  Our very own publisher Billy Kolber on a rainbow bedecked Citi Bike (below top)
  • A gay crosswalk in West Hollywood (below middle)
  • The London Eye bathed in gay lights  (bottom)

And just imagine how much pride is really going to gush in the event of a favorable ruling on marriage equality in the U.S. by the Supreme Court expected tomorrow or Monday.

Gay pride rainbow wrapped Citi Bike in London as seen in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

West-Hollywood-Rainbow-Crosswalk-20-300x199

rainbow eye

You can check out our unique digital-born gay travel magazine for savvy gay travelers by downloading the ManAboutWorldApp on the iTunes App Store or Google Play. We support iPads, Android tablets, iPhones and Android phones. There are a few free publications in all of the apps, and you can click here to register for a FREE three-month subscription. Go on, what are you waiting for!

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By @ 06/17/15 in Billy Kolber, Ed Salvato, Gay travel, Gay travel magazine, Kenny Porpora, ManAboutWorld, Tom Goss, Travel

tom gossA warm welcome to our newest ManAboutWorld Global Correspondent Tom Goss. There he is above with a lobster and below without. Check back here for his contributions which will include some fun travel videos.

Tom Goss is a singer, songwriter and storyteller based in Los Angeles, CA. Tom has spent the last decade aggressively touring. performing over 1,000 shows in 100+ cities, traversing 40 states and 5 countries. An adventurer at heart, there are few places where Tom can’t find something to climb over or jump off of.

Connect with Tom on the following social media platforms:

Meet all of our Global Correspondents here. Subscribe to ManAboutWorld here and find insights from Tom, our global correspondents and the staff writers at the magazine Billy, Ed and Kenny.

Tom.Square.Bed

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By @ 06/15/15 in Billy Kolber, Gay travel, ManAboutWorld, Points Whisperer, Travel

5254395015_b6387cef5b_zThis occasional column is penned by ManAboutWorld publisher and writer Billy Kolber who’s also a very frequent traveler and one of the world’s experts on maximizing miles and other frequent traveler programs.

Mileage is no longer a proxy for loyalty. We’re hearing about it from our friends at the airlines, in industry publications and the New York Times where a recent article discussed how airlines:

Have become increasingly skilled at ranking fliers by just how elite they are, and at public displays of this customer-importance ranking.

All businesses want to reward the customers who bring them the most revenue. For years, airlines couldn’t measure revenue as easily as mileage. Now that they can, it’s the end of perks for travelers who racked up miles at the lowest cost.

On the bright side, many of those elite privileges, like lounge access, better seats and priority boarding are available for a fee. And paying it will free many travelers from the pressure of maintaining their elite status. And now more than ever, ManAboutWorld’s points whisperer column is serving up essential advice for navigating the loyalty programs.

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By @ 02/05/15 in Billy Kolber, Ft. Lauderdale, Gay travel, ManAboutWorld, Travel
As seen in ManAboutWorld, the gay digital magazine

Gay couple gets wed on sunny Fort Lauderdale beach

 

Our publisher Billy Kolber will be participating in the Love Is Love free wedding ceremony of gay and straight couples on the sunny beach of Fort Lauderdale. Check back for more photos from the event!

Update Thursday, Friday 5, 2015
Here’s a photo from the event today. Congrats to all 100 newlyweds!

100 newlyweds on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale, as seen in ManAboutWorldl gay travel magazine

100 newlyweds wed today (Feb 5, 2015) as part of #loveislove campaign

https://www.yahoo.com/travel/ft-lauderdale-loves-the-gays-100-couples-get-107433069502.html

 

 

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By @ 12/12/14 in Billy Kolber, Ed Salvato, Gay travel, Kenny Porpora, Las Vegas, ManAboutWorld, Travel

????????ManAboutWorld spoke at the the 15th Annual Conference of Tourism and Hospitality hosted by CMI at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Speaking on press trips, our Publisher, Billy Kolber (center) and Editor-in-Chief, Ed Salvato (left) along with myself, discussed best practices to creating press trips, from abstract tips about themes and chemistry to considering the more fundamental needs of a writer, like WiFi and accommodations. If you’re in the industry and organize or attend press trips, this guide is for you. Download it now free!

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By @ 12/07/14 in Asia, Billy Kolber, Gay travel, ManAboutWorld, Travel, Uncategorized

seoulOur publisher, Billy Kolber, snapped this great photo yesterday during his visit of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, South Korea.

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By @ 12/01/14 in Asia, Billy Kolber, Gay travel, ManAboutWorld, Mark Vogler, Travel

marcioOur publisher, Billy Kolber, tours Southeast Asia with his husband Marcio and our great correspondent, Mark Vogler. Here’s Marcio in Siem Reap eating a delicious tarantula at Bug’s Cafe. Just one of the many Cambodian delicacies. (For those of you interested in seeing a video of Billy eating a live cock-roach, click here.)

 

 

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By @ 08/28/14 in Billy Kolber, Gay travel, Greece, ManAboutWorld, Travel

delosbkOur publisher, Billy Kolber, mimics an ancient Greek statue on the historic island of Delos. So what is Delos? It’s an UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Aegean Sea just a few miles from gay-popular Mykonos. It’s also the place where mythology was born, the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, known locally as the cradle of the Gods, an island  rich with artifacts from the third millennium. We like to think of it as a fabulous day-trip after you’ve had your fill of partying on Mykonos.

 

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By @ 05/13/14 in Adam Groffman, Auston Matta, Billy Kolber, Correspondent, DJ Yabis, Ed Salvato, Gay travel, Gay travel magazine, Hannes Pálsson, LA/West Hollywood, Madrid, ManAboutWorld, Nadav Peretz, Travel, Vladimir Martinez

IMG_9244Over a dozen ManAboutWorld correspondents attended the IGLTA’s 31st annual Convention, May 8-11. Here are eight of them from left to right, including their specialty, nationality and current city. What a worldly, hard-working, passionate group!

Just wait till IGLTA’s 32nd annual Convention in Los Angeles (April 9-12, 2015) where we will make an even bigger splash.

 

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By @ 07/16/13 in Billy Kolber, Europe, Gay cruise, Gay travel, Gay travel magazine, ManAboutWorld, Travel
Let your gay freak flag fly! Photo courtesy Source Events.

Let your gay freak flag fly!
Photo courtesy Source Events.

By Billy Kolber. Originally published in HuffPost Gay Voices

There’s never been a better summer and fall to cruise in Europe. There are still five all-gay (big- and small-gay) cruises to choose from this summer, offering a remarkable breadth of styles, ports and experiences. Every one of these cruises is reason enough to go, but If you’ve never tried a gay cruise, here are five more:

  1. There’s no better place to make new friends. Seriously, next to college and summer camp (both of which you’ve probably outgrown), gay vacations offer the best opportunity to share new experiences with new people. Ask any gay cruise veteran the best part about their vacation, and they inevitably say, “Making new friends.” As adults, we don’t have many environments that are conducive for making new best friends. Cruising is one of them.
  2. It’s a vacation from planning a vacation. Not that there aren’t options (particularly on the big gay cruises, there are dozens of dining and entertainment opportunities every moment of the day), but the freedom comes in choosing to do what you feel like, when you feel like it, and having it all available without much planning or thinking, and almost all of it without an additional charge.
  3. Value. Most guests spend a few hundred dollars beyond the upfront price for drinks, shore excursions, spa treatments and other extras. And some spend thousands. But you can easily go the whole trip without spending an extra dime.
  4. Variety. If you have Gay-DD, European cruising was made for you. You’ll get to sample lots of different places and cultures. What could be more fabulous than drinking wine in Bordeaux one day, hitting the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao another, and then dancing the night away in Ibiza, all without ever repacking your suitcase?
  5. Community. And the freedom to be yourself within it. Whether your freak flag flies toward silly, sexy or serious, there are few experiences as liberating, empowering and supportive as an all-gay environment.

Ready to come aboard?

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By @ 04/21/13 in Billy Kolber, Gay travel, Japan, ManAboutWorld, Travel

6485933067_86feb38a1b

After months of grounding by the FAA, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is poised to take flight again in the next few weeks. And that’s great news for those of us who fly, especially in the back of the plane. (Originally published in the Huffington Post.)

A lot has been made of the fuel efficiency and the 30% larger, electronically-dimming windows, but the real advance for travelers is the air quality. You might not appreciate it on a short flight, as veteran travel reporter Stephanie Rosenbloom at the New York Times observed on her test flight, but flying across the Pacific to Japan as we did shortly before the flights were grounded, the difference was striking.

Photo Credit: (cc) Flickr.com/Kentaro Iemoto



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